Iceland’s president on Tuesday denied knowing that his wife’s family had offshore investments which were revealed in the “Panama Papers” leak following revelations in the Icelandic media.
Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, 72, who has been president since 1996, confirmed last week that he would seek another term in June’s election.
The case could prove embarrassing for Grimsson who has made a virtue of his integrity and assured US broadcaster CNN on Friday that neither he or his family would be linked to the Panama Papers leak of millions of financial records.
But the English language website Reykjavik Grapevine reported that the family of Grimsson’s British-Israeli wife, Dorrit Moussaieff, had an interest in a British Virgin Islands company, Lasca Finance Limited.
Between 2000 and 2005, the company received part of the profits from the Moussaieff Jewellers chain.
Grimsson said that even if such transactions had happened, he and his wife were unaware of them.
“Neither the president nor Dorrit have any knowledge of this company, nor have they heard about it before,” said the president’s office, according to Iceland’s Kjarninn news site.
Grimsson’s spokesman could not be reached for comment.
The country fell into crisis this month after former prime minister Sigurdur David Gunnlaugsson was pressured to resign amid mass protests over a hidden offshore account worth millions of dollars.
Grimsson played a calming role during the turmoil, opposing the head of government who wanted to dissolve Parliament immediately. On April 7, he swore in a new Prime Minister, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson.
The presidency in Iceland is largely a ceremonial position, and Grimsson has limited powers. He can call a referendum on a law passed by Parliament if it is felt the whole nation should have a say.
Grimsson’s earlier terms were marked by the financial crisis of 2008 which devastated the small island’s economy.
He subsequently convened two referendums, in 2010 and 2011, over the astronomical sums demanded by Britain and the Netherlands after savings bank Icesave went bust.